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Dallas’ Sophie Hess, right, slides safely under the tag of West Albany’s Kylie Bellis during a Mid-Willamette Conference softball contest April 17. The Dragons went on to win the game, 7-4.
April 24, 2013
DALLAS -- When Dani Ackerman broke her thumb on a freak foul ball during summer softball last year, she hoped it wouldn't affect her senior high school season.
With her tireless work ethic, Ackerman simply didn't allow it to.
"Oh, she works her (tail) off so much," Dallas teammate Julie Postma said of Ackerman, whose RBI triple kickstarted a seven-run barrage that led to a 7-4 Dallas victory over West Albany in a crucial Mid-Willamette Conference matchup April 17.
"She's up in the cage taking like double of what everybody else takes and she's staying two hours after. She's smart with the game and she knows what she's doing, so I expect it from her," Postma added.
West Albany's loss was its first in MWC play this season, as Dallas avenged an earlier 1-0 setback to the Bulldogs (14-3, 11-1) back on April 2 -- also Dallas' lone league loss.
The two teams, which sit deadlocked atop the conference, will meet again at West Albany May 3.
Ackerman, who finished the game 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk, is part two of a battery that has Dallas -- ranked No. 5 in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 5A power rankings -- one of the state's teams to beat.
The catcher said once she realized that her senior volleyball season would be lost due to the injury, there was no way she was going to let it affect the sport she's set to compete in at Corban University next season.
"Once I got back in it, I put in so much time in the offseason because I just wanted my senior season to be fun; I wanted to go out hard and I wanted to be a strong leader for the team," Ackerman said.
Dallas’ Dani Ackerman, left, celebrates with Julie Postma after their win over West Albany April 17.
"I know that we can go far this year and I'm really looking forward to that."
Postma, a movement pitcher that relies heavily on a stingy Dragons defense, is the other half of a battery that has helped win 13 games.
After giving up a three-run home run to West Albany's BethAnne Neuschwander in the fourth inning that cut the Dallas lead to three (7-4), Postma didn't panic.
When West Albany put two runners on base with two outs via singles in the top of the seventh, Postma calmly struck out the final batter to end the game.
"She's a location pitcher and she hits her spots extremely well," Ackerman said. "I've caught her for four years now."
Dallas (14-2, 11-1), which also recorded 7-0 and 14-0 wins over Lebanon in a doubleheader April 16 and then beat Corvallis 15-0 Monday, got on the board quickly against West Albany, scoring two runs in the first inning.
After Sophie Hess got on base via a single, the senior smartly stole second base when West Albany failed to cover the bag. Ackerman's triple brought in Hess, then senior Caitlyn McCarron continued her surge at the plate, blasting a double to center field to make the score 2-0.
The Dragons would score five runs in the third, highlighted by McCarron's three-RBI triple. Lizzie Posey and Postma added RBI singles to give Dallas a commanding 7-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.
"We understood that this was going to be an important game and so we said, `This is about us and our discipline and making ourselves better,'" Dallas coach Al Perkins said.
"(April 17) was the best game they've played for the year."
Dallas tallied seven hits in the win over West Albany, led by McCarron (2 for 2. triple, double) and Ackerman (1 for 2, triple). Hess and Lizzie Posey added singles.
Postma pitched all seven innings, allowing four runs and striking out three.
In Monday's win over Corvallis, Ackerman and Kassidy Totten tallied three hits apiece to lead the Dragons to their 10th straight win.
Dallas at South Albany
When: Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.
Dallas at Silverton
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Woodburn at Dallas
When: Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
Through Dallas' first 15 games, the Dragons have accumlated some eye-popping numbers. Here are some of the highlights:
1.320 -- Caitlyn McCarron's current slugging percentage. In 50 at bats, the senior has 42 RBIS.
.618 -- Dani Ackerman's batting average, second on the team to only McCarron, who's batting .653.
13 -- stolen bases for Kassidy Totten, a team best.